Quarantined Playlist: The Weeknd, Don Toliver, Phresher and more

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(Trevor Wilson/Amherst Wire)

With everyone stuck inside and socially distancing from each other, there’s never been a better time to stay up to date on some of the latest releases in the world of music. We’ll be updating this playlist each week. Here are this week’s music suggestions from the Amherst Wire staff.

Trevor Wilson

“Faith” – The Weeknd

Toronto-bred pop and R&B sensation Abel Tesfaye is back like he never left, hitting a stride few artists can do with such ease. With his first release since his 2018 EP “My Dear Melancholy,” The Weeknd returns with his fourth studio album, “After Hours.” Much of the album features 80s-infused synths, basslines and drum patterns as The Weeknd takes his superstardom to the next level.

The track “Faith” kicks off with a booming, pulsating bassline accompanied by a simple snare and kick pattern. The beat alone hits you right in the face, and the track evolves into a truly ethereal experience as the instrumental breaks down into the next track, “Blinding Lights.” The Weeknd sounds better than ever, masterfully singing with lyrics about his detachment from reality and faith itself. It’s just one of many tracks that stand out on “After Hours.”

Other picks: “Right” – Mac Miller, “Fair Chance” – Thundercat ft. Ty Dolla $ign and Lil B

Jonathan Kermah

“Cardigan” – Don Toliver

It was 2018 when Don Toliver got his first taste of the spotlight with his major feature on Travis Scott’s “Astroworld,” aiding with his soul-filled vocals on “Can’t Say.” Now, after a year and some change, Toliver recently released his Cactus Jack and Atlantic records debut “Heaven or Hell,” where he continues to flex those vocals over atmospheric trap instrumentals. 

“Cardigan” is a perfect snapshot of what makes “Heaven and Hell” so special with Toliver singing with so much power behind every bellow. Toliver tells his lover to put her pride to the side as she hops in his jeep as he will use his wealth and fame to carry her on his back like a cardigan. The song’s outro is what had me hooked more than anything as the beat suddenly sounds like it’s evaporating with the clouds.

Other picks: “The Ghost of Soulja Slim” – Jay Electronica featuring Jay-Z, “12.38” – Childish Gambino

Astghik Dion

“Point Em Out” – Phresher, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie 

“Point Em Out” is the kind of song that would be played at a function and everyone would wake up from their wall leaning and start screaming every single word – if we weren’t all trapped in our respective abodes. New York rap has changed and warped into a million different sounds since the days of Nas and 50 Cent, but the one thing it will never do is die. Kept alive by rappers such as Phresher and A Boogie, maybe one day will come when the city doesn’t dominate the hip-hop industry. But that day is not today.

Other picks: “Always Be Gangsta Freestyle” – Kevin Gates, “Toxic” – Kehlani

Shane Guilfoyle

“Don’t be afraid” – knxwledge

Knxwledge, pronounced knowledge, is a record producer based out of LA. In attempting to summarize his extensive discography, you could say he finds himself somewhere between classical and contemporary. Through a genre-blending sound, the 32-year-old New Jersey native pulls and samples from Jazz, Soul, Lo-Fi and Hip-Hop to deliver reinventive takes on established hits. 

Released ahead of his upcoming project 1988, “Don’t Be Afraid” dropped early last week. With vocal samples from Kut Klose’s “Surrender”, the single provides a soulful bounce and rhythm across its symphony of kicks, snares and synths. If you find your playlists growing stale this quarantine season, consider giving Knxwledge a chance. With a specialty for sourcing those forgotten sounds, the artist offers a wealth of inspiration to listeners itching to expand their tastes.

Other picks: “Gosha” – BigBabyGucci, “Breeze” – Cyrax

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